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SustainabiliTEA: Fighting Indifference & Denial – Living Sustainably

SustainabiliTEA is a column by the Georgetown Sustainability Club that covers all things green and eco-friendly. The club’s goal is to promote sustainable lifestyles and meaningful local policy changes to fight climate change and environmental degradation.

Unless you currently sport an orange-colored toupee and have small hands, you are most likely aware of climate change and its pressing consequences.  

According to the World Bank, the amount of waste we produce is expected to increase by 70% by 2050. We already produce over 2 billion tonnes of waste annually. NASA reports that Carbon Dioxide is at the highest level it has ever been in 650,000 years, and the global temperature is rising with 18 out of the 19 hottest years ever recorded occurring after 2001. These facts often lead to two reactions: one of despair and one of denial. Those who despair may try to desperately change the entire world system, while those who live in denial engage in an attitude of indifference. 

In conclusion, humans are gross. And we either like to deny we are or assume that we will always remain nasty. However, since most of us know that the state of our environment is rapidly deteriorating, it’s about time we move the conversation from passively raising awareness to active change. 

We’ll say it: Living sustainably is inconvenient, but only because we’ve become accustomed to a consumerist lifestyle that threatens the environment. Before you fight us about how institutions must change and governments need more effective policies, read the Sustainability Club’s tips on how you as an individual can live more sustainably. 

  1. “Environmental sustainability begins with personal responsibility.” Sustainability has become a little more than a buzzword. But that’s why it is increasingly important for us not to become comfortable with the inaction that comes when policy-makers label every new policy as “sustainable”. Make sustainability a personal priority by adjusting your mindset – Remind yourself that every step you take towards sustainable living is another turtle saved from suffocating in a plastic dump or a little less trash thrown into radioactive landfills that affect the health of residents in fenceline communities. 

  2. Reduce, Reuse, Reassure, Rethink The recycling scene throughout the Gulf is not the most appealing. Instead of being part of a vicious cycle of consuming products that aren’t typically recycled, why not find alternatives and leave peacefully knowing you haven’t contributed to the greater issue? Rethinking your sustainable-living habits is worth every riyal and every ounce of effort. 

  3. Effect Policy Change Submit a Policy Recommendation Letter to QF. Talk to cafe and restaurant managers about their sustainable practices. Call up recycling plants in your city and request a visit to see for yourself if they recycle properly. Send emails to the Student Housing and Residence Life professional staff and politely demand a composting bin for food waste. Whatever it is, do it now. Right now. Open up your email, write that email, send it off. See yourself inspiring positive change – stop judging an inefficient system when you have the ability to change that system yourself. 

Institutional and systemic arguments against climate change do not undermine the arguments of individual consumer actions, they are not mutually exclusive and can in fact co-exist. We continue to advocate for micro-scale changes because that is what lies within our capabilities. But that does not mean we will disregard the significance of policy changes. In the meantime, this list shows us that we can do something, so embark on what you can do rather than what everyone else should be doing. 

To continue this debate, follow us on Instagram @guqsustainabilityclub and feel free to approach Iman Ismail or Salma Hassan anytime to challenge any of the claims above. 

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